DNV GL awards MSC new container ship fire safety notation

At DNV GL's recent annual London press briefing, DNV GL - Maritime CEO Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen announced the classification society had awarded a ground-breaking new class notation to mitigate fire risks on container ships to MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company. The notation has been implemented on the largest container ships in the world, the 23,000+ TEU MSC Gülsün class.

MSC Samar class notation | DNV GL
The MSC Gülsün class vessels use the world's first on-deck firefighting monitors - fixed water cannons to slow and stop the spread of fire by cooling, which have a reach of more than 100 metres.

The new FCS notation is targeted exclusively towards container ships. It is designed around a function-based approach, for an enhanced safety level beyond present SOLAS requirements, an increased hazard awareness, and an enhanced ability to detect and fight container fires. Applicable to both newbuildings and ships in operation, the notation is set up in a modular way. Owners can decide on the set of qualifiers best suited to their safety objectives and then choose the most efficient measures and technologies to reach these objectives. DNV GL can support hazard assessment and will ensure that targeted functions are fulfilled. This approach is designed to foster the application of new and advanced technologies and ensuring that safety objectives are met in the most efficient way.

"In shipping, we must always have safety at the forefront of our thinking," said Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO, DNV GL - Maritime. "As we move forward in design and in operation, becoming more sustainable and more efficient, safety must still underpin every decision. Therefore, we are so proud to work with innovators like MSC, who when they push the envelope with designs like the MSC Gülsün class, are also looking to initiate a step change in safety. This new notation enables owners and operators to work with yards and designers to take advantage of new technology, in a way that suits their requirements and mitigates fire risk."

"Container ships have grown much larger in recent years and the volume of cargo carried on deck has expanded exponentially. Container fires, especially with the volume of cargo now being carried, can present a substantial risk to the safety of the crew, cargo and the vessel. This is why MSC decided to install new dual-tower fire-fighting system with high-capacity pumps to further enhance the safety of seafarers onboard and protect cargo carried across the whole deck of the ship," explained Giuseppe Gargiulo, Head of Newbuildings, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company. "Ensuring crew and cargo safety is MSC's No. 1 priority. Being awarded this new class notation from DNV GL complements the significant amount of work done by our ship management companies in recent years to ensure safe working conditions onboard," he continued.

The FCS notations have been developed and piloted in cooperation with MSC, and their 23,000+ TEU MSC Gülsün class are the first vessels to be awarded the notations. After a HAZID workshop with DNV GL, MSC worked to develop a set of operational and technology measures to mitigate the fire risks onboard the vessels. These included the world's first use of on-deck firefighting monitors - fixed water cannons to slow and stop the spread of fire by cooling, which have a reach of more than 100 metres. In addition, a unique thermal camera system was installed on MSC Febe, one of the Gülsün class ships, which tracks irregularities and alerts the crew to potential fires. DNV GL witnessed testing of the systems in operation, to verify that they meet the requirements of the notations.

The 5 FCS qualifiers are fully modular, and can be selected independently of each other, based on the requirements of the owner:

  • FCS (C): Extended level beyond SOLAS
  • FCS (HAZID): Hazard identification
  • FCS (FD): Enhanced fire detection
  • FCS (FF): Enhanced fire fighting
  • FCS (HF): Firefighting by hold flooding